Shrewsbury staff replacing malfunctioning water meters

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ShrewsburyBy Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer

SHREWSBURY — Facing malfunctioning meters, the Shrewsbury Water & Sewer Division has been unable to get ahold of about 100 customers, Superintendent Dan Rowley told the Board of Selectmen June 23.

He said there have been “multiple” attempts to contact them. Now, officials are discussing whether to shut off water service to these properties.

“One of our focuses is unaccounted for water,” Rowley said. “So, every meter that doesn’t work and is malfunctioning takes a toll on that.” 

He said town staff has been working on replacing commercial and residential meters. 

Department of Public Works Business Manager David Snowden said the meters are not reading. That could be due to issues with meters themselves or encoder receiver transmitters (ERTs).

Rowley said the Water & Sewer Division has reached a “crossroads.” 

Snowden said more malfunctioning meters have been replaced in 2021 compared to both 2020 and 2019, beating the 2019 number by 100 meters. 

“There’s been a significant effort to replace meters that age out or are not working,” Snowden said. “We really don’t want to shut off water, but we’re getting to the point where it may be the best course of action to address these other accounts.”

Snowden said staff planned to hand-deliver notices to customers in July and reach out to them through both Shrewsbury’s emergency notification system, CodeRED, and through town newsflashes. 

As long as the customers have responded by Aug. 2, Snowden said they will consider them as having to comply. 

Those who don’t reply will be “staked” to be shut off with a blue stake, and their water would be shut off between Aug. 2 and 6. 

Selectman Maurice DePalo asked that they not shut off water on a Friday, saying he heard of how people in other communities facing similar situations didn’t have the chance to respond before their meters were turned off.

Put another notice on their door before the water is shut off, he said.

“I know they’re being difficult by not accommodating you, but we have to demonstrate that we’ve made every effort,” DePalo said. “It is way above and beyond. I think it’s necessary.”